Friday, December 30, 2011

Libyan Meatballs - Simplified "Mafrum"

There is a lovely tradition in many communities that after a women has a baby, people bring her family meals for a week or so.  One of the meals I received after our little guy was born included the most amazing turkey meat balls.  Below is the recipe from my friend with my notes and pictures.  Note there are two cooking options.

In "non-recipe" style, this dish is modified from Tripolitanian "Mafrum," a more complicated dish made with minced beef sandwiched in potatoes.  It is the traditional Erev Shabbat (Friday night) meal of the Libyan Jewish community.  It is usually served with couscous, but for a lower glycemic option, I recommend whole wheat couscous, bulgur wheat, or barley.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What's In It?

I often use prepackaged spice mixes.  Since you might not be able to find exactly what I'm using, I thought I'd share what is commonly in these mixes.  Different families, stores, and villages have different recipes, but the list below is a good representation of the common make-up, and most closely resembles what I'm using and what you should be able to find.  This is in preparation for a Yemenite meatball recipe I will post on Friday.

Hawaig Yemenite Seasoning from
6 1/2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1/4 cup cumin seed
2 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons green cardamom pods
1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves
3 1/2 tablespoons ground turmeric

Za'atar Middle Eastern Seasoning Mix from
1/4 cup sumac
2 tablespoons thyme
1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons marjoram
2 tablespoons oregano
1 teaspoon coarse salt

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Buying Beef in Israel - Guest Post

Sign behind the meat counter at my grocery chain
showing meat cuts by number.
I don't eat much beef and I can't remember the last time I did a cow justice in the kitchen.  To help, I invited professional caterer Rochelle Shalet to share her expertise.  Rochelle runs Tastes of the World catering and produces a free newsletter publication, with interesting and useful information and recipes.  The information and chart below are from a previous Tastes of the World Newsletter.  If this interests you, I strongly recommend you email Rochelle to subscribe to her monthly newsletter.  

Meat may take a long time to cook, but in the winter you have the dual benefit of heating the house and cooking dinner at the same time.  My first meat shopping experience in Israel was quite bewildering. If you have recently made Aliyah or been here for years but never quite got to grips with all the cuts and names, this newsletter aims to provide a guide for when you are next standing at the meat counter.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Cheese Pancakes

Photo: Sarah Melamed of Food Bridge
Traditional potato latkes are a product of the Eastern European potato filled diet that Ashkenazi Jewry adopted.  But I never thought about the fact that the original macabees weren't eating potatoes.  According to Tastes of The World, "the Maccabees may have eaten a patty made of cheese and egg which was then fried in olive oil."

 Sarah Melamed of Food Bridge has a pancake recipe using cottage cheese, or you can use the recipe below for delicious dairy pancakes.  If you can't find "gvina levana" creamy white cheese, I suggest substituting regular cream cheese, yogurt, or a mix of the two.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dulce de Leche

To celebrate the heroic deed of Yehudit, who intoxicated the general of the opposing army with cheese and wine before slicing off his head, dairy products are often eaten on Chanukah.  What better way is there to enjoy dairy than caramelized?  My dad's family spent a couple generations in Argentina, so our family was eating "Dulce de Leche" before Ben and Jerry put it in ice cream.  It is also a popular sufgania (donut) filling here in Israel.  In Hebrew it is called "ribat chalav," literally milk jam.

Here in Israel I buy it in a jar on the shelf with peanut butter and jam (though the two are not commonly eaten together.)  It is sold in original, chocolate, vanilla. creme, and coffee flavors.  But my family in the United States makes it from a can.  And it's EASY!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

7 Ways to Make Coffee at Home

Photo by Lotzman Katzman
Caffeine is a drug that often gets a bad wrap.  Hey, I give coffee a bad wrap!  But today I'd like to celebrate the benefits of coffee.

First, some fun facts I've heard recently:

I've been hiding the following gem of information from my caffeine addicted, instant coffee loving hubby. According to "Nutrition Diva", Monica Reinagel, M.S.,L.D./N...
It turns out that caffeine has a lot of positive health benefits and, despite what you may have heard, relatively few drawbacks.  People who drink coffee every day, for example, have a significantly lower risk of diabetes, Parkinson’s, colon cancer, gallstones, and Alzheimer’s disease. Now, that may not all be due to caffeine. Coffee contains a lot of volatile compounds and antioxidants that may have beneficial effects by themselves, or in combination with caffeine. Read or listen to the full article "Is Caffeine Bad for You? March 3, 2009"

In the November 26 episode of KCRW's Good Food (29 minutes in), Evan Kleiman interviews author Kevin Sinnott about the terms and implications of fair trade, direct trade, shade grown and organic coffees. Most of us have heard of "fair trade," but did you know "direct trade" benefits the farmers more? Did you know that coffee from many countries is organic for all practical purposes, but the farmers don't pay for certification?  Listen to the episode or check out the Kevin Sinnott's book to learn more.

Mike of Daily Shot of Coffee shares lovely pictures of coffee making devices and how they work in "10 Ways to Make Coffee."  The article "The 7 Ways to Brew Coffee" lists different grinds recommended for different methods - course to Extra fine.

In a celebration of coffee, I'd like to present a compilation of video tutorials of different coffee making techniques.  How do you like your coffee?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pan Seared Salmon

We have a little issue with the electricity in our apartment.  If we have more than three major appliances on besides the fridge, we overload the circuit and half to go outside to the fuse box.  So we can't have the washer,  heater, hot water heater, and oven on at the same time.  This has caused me to cook more things on our gas stove top.  I recently made this delicious and very easy salmon from some odd shaped fresh salmon steaks.

I used my silicon brush to paint both sides of the salmon with a squirt of Hellmann's Mayonnaise garlic sandwich dressing, some dill, and coriander.  I cooked it in a non-stick pan until the flesh was light pink and opaque.  Then I removed the meat from the bone to make it easier for my family to eat.  I transferred the boneless, skinless fish back to the pan and reheated before serving.

You may also like Tarragon Salmon.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Israeli Treats: Crembo, Sufganiot, and lots of chocolate

Think you have a hard time staying away from some office Christmas cookies?  The Israeli junk food season begins in October!  In Israel "the holidays" generally refers to the "High Holidays" (Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Simchat Torah).  As soon as they are over around the end of October, the Chanuka goodies go on the shelf.

While the fall holidays come with their fair share of non-stop feasting, winter is full of sweets.  Unlike most mass produced candies which are available year round, these Israeli treats have a season. As the autumn pomegranates, dates, peaches, and plums go out of season, oranges, persimmons, and jelly donuts come in!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Don't be Lazy - Wrap Your Baby

My maternity leave is over.  I've thoroughly enjoyed the last seven weeks laying around with my new baby and making the worlds most perfect food - mother's milk.  But now it's time I get back in the kitchen and cook a little more for the rest of my family.  Here's how I do it:

You can make a No-Sew Baby Wrap with 4-5 yards of knit fabric.  Do not try to sew two pieces together or your wrap will be weak where you need it strong - in the middle. Useful links:

Wearing a baby is also great for sitting activities when you need two free hands  (like blogging, crocheting, hugging, and reading to older kids).  I can even nurse with my baby wrapped! Below is a picture of my husband wearing Avi while doing the dishes.  He was very skeptical at first, but now he loves to wear our baby. And they keep each other warm!


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